A Tough Relationship Gets Tougher

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MAY 23 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) attend the High-Level Leaders' Roundtables meeting on "Political Leadership to Prevent and End Conflicts" at the Emirgan Hall (ICC) within the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey on May 23, 2016. Salih Zeki Fazlioglu / Anadolu Agency [ Rechtehinweis: picture alliance / abaca ]
The Turkish and German leaders aren't having the smoothest of relationships these days.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Turkish government’s aggressive efforts to target supporters of a coup could complicate an already testy relationship between Germany and Turkey.

  • Facts


    • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has blamed a recent coup against him on Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States and denies the charges.
    • According to estimates, there are 300,000 to 400,000 Turks in Germany who are loyal to Mr. Gülen.
    • Turkey already recalled its ambassador in Berlin over an Armenia resolution. The German ambassador to Germany in Ankara, Martin Erdmann, said he hasn’t been able to get an appointment with any representatives from the government since.
  • Audio


  • Pdf


It’s been an aggressive purge. In the wake of the attempted coup against the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his government has been punishing followers of the Turkish preacher, former imam, writer, and political figure Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.

Mr. Erdoğan blames Mr. Gülen for the coup, a charge the imam denies. He has already persecuted Gülen followers that live in Turkey.

Now Mr. Erdoğan wants to pursue Gülen followers in other countries too, including Germany, where members of his family are said to live.

The Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu told reporters on CNN Türk that he knows many Gülen followers who are in Germany. “It is necessary to extradite them,” he said in the interview.

The demand could be extremely tricky for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, coming at a moment when Germany’s relations with Turkey are going through a sensitive phase. Ms. Merkel needs the country’s help to stem the flow of refugees into Europe and consequently Germany.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.